Ipswich trader ordered to repay £14,600 made from illegal tobacco sales

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An Ipswich trader, has been told today (7 December 2018) at Ipswich Crown Court that he must repay the profits he made from those sales.

Illegal tobacco seizedHe had previously been prosecuted for trading illegal tobacco.

Suffolk Trading Standards estimate that Hedi Ibrahim earned £302,505.90 from the illegal sales, however his realisable assets now total just £14,600. The court determined that Ibrahim must now repay this amount in the next three months along with a £140 victim surcharge.

Suffolk Trading Standards had already led a successful prosecution against Ibrahim in December 2017 which resulted in suspended custodial sentences totalling two and a half years, as well as 240 hours of unpaid work in the community. Ibrahim was trading as IKI Grocery Store in Franciscan Way, Ipswich.

Suffolk Trading Standards Officer, Stuart Hughes, said:

“Following the seizure of the tobacco, evidence was sent to relevant trademark holders as well as a product safety laboratory for testing. A quantity was found to be counterfeit, infringing the trademarks of the Regal, Richmond, Winston and Marlboro brands.

“A number of the cigarettes were also found to be unsafe without any self-extinguishing protection built into them. A large quantity was found to have been imported illegally, failing to bear health warnings in English.”

This latest court order has been made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This piece of legislation tackles criminals by hitting them where it hurts - by making them repay the profits which they illegally gained. A proportion of this money can go to local authorities to be used to fund additional work in the battle against crime.

Since the original sentencing in December 2017, Ibrahim has also had his alcohol licence revoked after a Licence Review was requested by Suffolk Police with the support of Suffolk Trading Standards. A committee of three local councillors determined that the conditions of the current alcohol licence had been breached due to the sale of illicit tobacco and the criminal conviction that followed.

Councillor Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, said:

“This is a great result for Suffolk. Not only has Suffolk Trading Standards removed illegal cigarettes from the streets that are often extremely dangerous, but also recovered money that will be used in the continuing work to protect our community from rogue traders. 

“This prosecution should be a stark reminder to anyone storing, selling or distributing illegal tobacco that it will not be tolerated in Suffolk.”

If you have concerns of illegal tobacco or cigarette sales, you can report it in confidence to Trading Standards on 0345 4040 506.